New Missions in Africa
The Region of Kenya was founded as a response to the appeal by His Holiness Pope Pius XII to all Congregations in the Western world to send missionaries to Africa for evangelization. In June 1957, Bishop Hall and
Fr. Van Oudraa of the Diocese of Kisumu went to Oudenbosch(Netherlands) to ask for sisters to come for a mission in Kisumu Diocese. The Bishop was moved by the need to start schools and Health Centers around Kavirondo Gulf. He intended that the sisters would go to the parishes which needed their services most and one of these parishes was Lwak in the present Siaya County, Kisumu Archdiocese.
In 1958, the five sisters from Oudenbosch accepted to go to the mission to Kenya sent by the then Superior General, Mother Consolata. Prior to sending the five sisters, mother Consolata accompanied by Sr. Getrudis first visited Kenya to see where the sisters could start their services. The two sisters visited Lwak together with Bishop Hall. Before going back to Holland, they visited other places including Tanzania where they were also invited by a Bishop before making the final decision.
Back to Holland, Mother Consolata gave a report of their journey. After this a decision was made to send the sisters to Kenya (Lwak Parish). The sisters organized a fund raising to get funds and materials for their new mission in Kenya. The first five sisters sent were; Sr. Mechtilda, Sr. Mary Louise, Sr. Eymardine, Sr. Brigida and Sr. Catherine. Of these, Sr. Mechtilda who w
as leader of the five is still alive.
The five sisters left for Kenya on 2nd October 1958 and arrived on Mombasa Port on 15th October 1958. They proceeded by train first to Nairobi, Kisumu and finally to Kakamega Bishop’s Residence. On 21st October 1958, they arrived at Lwak where they were received by Fr. Verhey and Fr. Van Oudraa amid cheers, dance and songs from the villagers and school children. To the five sisters, Bishop Hall echoed the words of Mother Consolata “sister, the Lord is with you always”.
The Branches spread
In Lwak, the sisters started first with the care of the orphans. In 1959, Sr. Mechtilda and Sr. Mary Louise started teaching in an intermediate school nearby now Lwak Mixed primary school which was already in place. Sr. Catherine started a primary school for girls which later in 1960 become the first school for the FSSA (Lwak Girls Primary Boarding school). Sr. Eymardine started a Dispensary, maternity section and orphanage. Later, Sr. Veronica joined Sr. Eymardine to take care of the orphanage and the dispensary as the number of orphans was increasing. Lwak become therefore the Motherhouse for Kenya Region, later a Province.
Institutions Outside the Mother House
Between 1958 and 1972, four communities were established with sc
hools and health care units attached to address the needs of the pupils and the local community. Mother Consolata continued to send more sisters from Holland to serve in these institutions which were well staffed. During her leadership as the Superior Suiperior, together with her council, she realized that for the work of the congregation to continue, there was need to start admitting Kenyan girls in the congregation to fulfill the many educational and healing needs in the country which the Dutch sisters could not accomplish alone. She pressed for starting a branch of the congregation in Kenya and the first girls admitted in the congregation on 29th October, 1962 were:
- Monica P. Adhiambo (Sr. Immaculata R.I.P)
- Mary Juma Okango(Sr. Gabriel)
- Theophilla Bunde(Sr. Joseph)
- Bertha Aketch(Mrs. Obuon)
The original intention of Mother Consolata in founding the Kenya bra
nch was to form an independent/Indigenous Congregation just like many of the Missionary Congregations were doing. Later after first profession of the Kenyan sisters, mother Consolata with her council saw the need to integrate the sisters in the congregation of the Franciscan Sisters of St. Anna Oudenbosch. The Kenyan sisters were asked to give their opinion on this and having no objection, the integration was done officially through Rome and the Bishop of Kisumu Diocese.
Currently there are 150 professed Kenyan sisters and 35 Dutch
sisters living in 24 communities doing a variety of Apostolates
Not only Bishop Hall and Fr. Van Oudraa went to ask for sisters from Ki
sumu Diocese, but Bishop Maurice Otunga of Kisii Diocese also went to Oudenbosch to ask for the same. The sisters accepted his invitation after which He build a convent and a boarding primary school with the assistance of the congregation. (Rapogi Convent now in Homabay Diocese).